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Springfield Diocese Responds To Shrinking Catholic School Enrollment

Catholic schools in western Massachusetts, like elsewhere in the country, have been losing students in recent years, and some have closed. 

The Springfield diocese has assembled a three-person team to recommend a response.

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski offered a few theories for why enrollment in Catholic schools is down: fewer nuns to volunteer in the schools means tuition has gone up. Also, people aren't having large families the way they used to.

"Our demographics here -- it's an older demographic in our area in western Massachusetts," Rozanski said.

When asked about the many revelations of sex abuse by priests, Rozanski said, "I think it might have had some impact upon [declining enrollment], but I'm not sure it's had a great impact upon it."

Since the church subsidizes the 14 Catholic schools in the diocese, Rozanski said their financial health affects the broader Catholic community.

Rozanski said the newly appointed team of educators will review each school over the next six months and propose solutions. He doesn't know if that will include more closings. 

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
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